The Gene Patent Issue

The ACLU is currently involved in a lawsuit against Myriad Genetics, the company that holds the patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Patenting genes is an interesting issue that is gaining more and more attention as genes grow in importance and more are discovered. Opponents argue that genes are part of nature, and nature can’t be patented. It’s a good argument, especially because once a gene is patented it means only the patent holder can research and test for the gene, making the patent holder able to set high prices and be the only one to do any research (or not do research, if that is that case).

This article from the Miami Herald touches on the subject, specifically that scientists say patenting genes can stifle research.

My health insurance covered the BRCA test so cost wasn’t a problem. But I would be pretty upset if research wasn’t moving ahead because Myriad is the only company allowed to work with the genes.


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